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AUSTRALIA DATA: Oct crude exports rise 19% on year amid strong sales to Singapore, South Korea

Australia’s crude oil exports rose 19% year on year in October on the back of heavy sweet crude shipments to Singapore and condensate sales to South Korea, which were expected to continue to contribute heavily to its refinery feedstock exports in the new year, sweet crude traders and refinery sources said.

Australia exported 9.35 million barrels of refinery feedstocks in October, up from 7.85 million barrels a year earlier but down 9% from 10.24 million barrels in September, Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources preliminary data showed.

Singapore was the destination for almost half of total at 4.6 million barrels, compared with none a year earlier.

September and October were two of only three months on record that Australia’s exports to Singapore have been above 4 million barrels/month; the third was in October 2011. Monthly volumes since then have only breached 3 million barrels/month on nine occasions.

Most of the shipments to Singapore in October were heavy sweet crude grades. Australian producers including Woodside Petroleum and Santos were expected to continue registering strong sales to the Asian oil trading hub due to strong demand for low sulfur bunker fuel in the region, sweet crude traders said.

COVID-19 has accelerated an online retail boom across Asia and e-commerce retailers are recording robust sales, leading to a sharp increase in shipments of manufactured goods that in turn support bunker fuel demand in the region, the trading sources said.

Australian heavy sweet crudes including Vincent, Pyrenees and Van Gogh are widely seen as ideal for blending into low sulfur marine fuels due to their rich fuel oil yield, very low sulfur content and unique specifications such as low pour point and high flash point, industry and Asian refinery sources said.

Australia’s crude exports to South Korea remained robust in October at 1.3 million barrels of condensate, or ultra-light crude, the data showed.

Australian condensate is an ideal base feedstock for petrochemical products that would support South Korea’s medical equipment and hygiene product manufacturing, plant operating managers at Lotte Chemical and Hanwha Total said.

Australia is set to continue registering strong condensate sales to South Korea in coming months as petrochemical companies seek more feedstock to ramp up production of various base chemicals including polyethylene and polypropylene to cater to manufacturing demand for winter clothes and plastic-based medical devices, the plant operation sources said.

Australia’s crude exports to Japan remained comparatively for the second month running in October at 710,120 barrels, up from none a year earlier, the data showed. Prior to September, Australia’s exports to Japan had not breached 700,000 barrels/month since January 2018.

Upstream activity
Australia’s production of crude oil fell 13% year on year to 3.87 million barrels in October, but rose 5% month on month, the data showed.

The country’s condensate production was unchanged year on year in October at 6.62 million barrels, and down 2% on month.

LPG production rose 1% year on year to 3.03 million barrels in October, and fell 2% month on month.

Imports
Australia’s imports of crude oil and other refinery feedstocks bounced back from a 14-month low in September to a four-month high in October of 7.21 million barrels, down 21% year on year but up 29% month on month.

Imports from Malaysia fell 13% year on year to 3.4 million barrels, but rose 30% month on month.

Brunei Darussalam and Vietnam were the only other two countries to supply Australia with more than 1 million barrels each in October, with supply from Vietnam surging to a 21-month high.
Source: Platts

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